COMMON PEOPLE #38

natalie hunt
woonona nsw

 

Glittering across the studio floor you'll find third generation stained glass artist Natalie Hunt cutting, grinding and soldering her latest creations. From butterflies to art deco window panes Natalie applies her modern style to a very old and beautiful art form.

 

INTERVIEW BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

IMAGES BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

COMMON PEOPLE #38

natalie hunt
woonona, nsw

Glittering across the studio floor you'll find third generation stained glass artist Natalie Hunt cutting, grinding and soldering her latest creations. From butterflies to art deco window panes Natalie applies her modern style to a very old and beautiful art form.

INTERVIEW BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

IMAGES BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

 

 

Tell us about yourself and what you do?

I'm Natalie, also known as Afternoon Sun, and I'm a stained glass artist living and working in Wollongong on Dharawal land. I love to breathe life into the old-school art of stained glass; taking inspiration from nature and the art deco and art nouveau movements.

 

Tell us how you got into working with glass?

My experience with stained glass and leadlighting began many years ago, helping my mum with her own projects in our garage, but I never imagined much was possible outside of the regular Federation-style designs she worked with. I was living and working in Japan in the beginning of 2020 but unfortunately had to return home due to COVID-19, which meant going back to live with my mum for a short time. While I was in my 2 week home quarantine, I was bored out of my brains, so I asked my mum to show me where all her materials were and if I could have a crack at my own designs in glass. I started and I couldn't stop, I spent quite literally all day every day in that garage tinkering away and coming up with my own ideas of what could be done. I haven't stopped since!

 

Are there any artists that inspire you?

I'm always motivated by my OG inspiration, my grandfather, a German stained glass artist and repairer who worked before WWII. I always imagine him high up in the Cologne cathedral in Germany on a ladder, carefully maintaining the windows - he was a meticulous man and I think I get a lot of my obsession over detail from him.

 

Tell us about yourself and what you do?

I'm Natalie, also known as Afternoon Sun, and I'm a stained glass artist living and working in Wollongong on Dharawal land. I love to breathe life into the old-school art of stained glass; taking inspiration from nature and the art deco and art nouveau movements.

 

Tell us how you got into working with glass?

My experience with stained glass and leadlighting began many years ago, helping my mum with her own projects in our garage, but I never imagined much was possible outside of the regular Federation-style designs she worked with. I was living and working in Japan in the beginning of 2020 but unfortunately had to return home due to COVID-19, which meant going back to live with my mum for a short time. While I was in my 2 week home quarantine, I was bored out of my brains, so I asked my mum to show me where all her materials were and if I could have a crack at my own designs in glass. I started and I couldn't stop, I spent quite literally all day every day in that garage tinkering away and coming up with my own ideas of what could be done. I haven't stopped since!

 

Are there any artists that inspire you?

I'm always motivated by my OG inspiration, my grandfather, a German stained glass artist and repairer who worked before WWII. I always imagine him high up in the Cologne cathedral in Germany on a ladder, carefully maintaining the windows - he was a meticulous man and I think I get a lot of my obsession over detail from him.

"...my grandfather, a German stained glass artist and repairer who worked before WWII. I always imagine him high up in the Cologne cathedral in Germany on a ladder, carefully maintaining the windows - he was a meticulous man and I think I get a lot of my obsession over detail from him."

"...my grandfather, a German stained glass artist and repairer who worked before WWII. I always imagine him high up in the Cologne cathedral in Germany on a ladder, carefully maintaining the windows - he was a meticulous man and I think I get a lot of my obsession over detail from him."

Tell us about the process... ? 

Every project is definitely a labour of love... even small projects go through so many steps before completion. First you start with a design, which takes lots of consideration and planning - the design is so important! Everything has to be considered at this first step - the scale of the piece will dictate where certain lines will sit for reinforcement and the placement (such as if it's hanging) also needs to be decided now for strength purposes. Funnily enough sometimes the aesthetic of a design comes second!

After that, choosing the glass is definitely the hardest part for me - sometimes there's too much choice. I buy the glass in 30cmx30cm sheets which range anywhere from $30 to $60 each. Then the paper design is cut using special scissors that take 1mm off each edge to allow for fitting all the pieces together. Some people like to trace their shapes from these cutouts onto the glass, but I prefer to stick them on with a glue stick for more accuracy. Then, rough cuts are made using a carbide glass cutter and running pliers. There's still lots of sharp jagged edges and nothing fits together yet, which is where the glass grinder comes in. It's a carbide head that spins on a motor really fast, smoothing down all the sharp bits and getting the piece to the exact shape it needs to be. It's really messy, you need to use water for grinding and it splashes literally everywhere, it drives me crazy!

After all the pieces are ground and they fit the design, there's a couple of different ways of joining them together. I use copper foil, which is wrapped around the edges of each piece. After they're all wrapped, I turn the soldering iron onto 450°C and get melting the lead solder onto the copper to join it all together.

There's no denying that stained glass is a dangerous art. There's sharp shards of glass, lead, high temperatures and nasty fumes, you really have to keep a clean and tidy workspace and always wear eye protection and ventilate your space. And just when you've been through all of that, there's about 8 more steps to polishing and finishing before it's done. All of these steps take hours upon hours. Each piece really is laborious, which I think is super special knowing that someone has lovingly pored over a work for so long to make sure the finished product is perfect.

 

Tell us about the types of glass you use?

I use such a wide variety of glass! Some of my favourites are all of the transparent Waterglass by a company called Spectrum. Every colour is beautiful and has a soft and gentle ripple effect that looks beautiful no matter where it's placed. I really like light and pastel opaques too. The bulk of my glass collection is yellow, orange, brown and pink - I'm a warm tones gal and often struggle to use up colours like blue and green, but I'm working on it!

 

What's your favourite piece to date?

My favourite piece to date is definitely my art nouveau flowers. I've always loved the humble Nasturtium, so these are definitely inspired by those which was a motif very much loved during the nouveau craze. I remember finishing it after a period of time where I wasn't feeling particularly motivated to make. When it was complete I remember thinking to myself, "I'm back!"

 

Tell us about the process... ? 

Every project is definitely a labour of love... even small projects go through so many steps before completion. First you start with a design, which takes lots of consideration and planning - the design is so important! Everything has to be considered at this first step - the scale of the piece will dictate where certain lines will sit for reinforcement and the placement (such as if it's hanging) also needs to be decided now for strength purposes. Funnily enough sometimes the aesthetic of a design comes second!

After that, choosing the glass is definitely the hardest part for me - sometimes there's too much choice. I buy the glass in 30cmx30cm sheets which range anywhere from $30 to $60 each. Then the paper design is cut using special scissors that take 1mm off each edge to allow for fitting all the pieces together. Some people like to trace their shapes from these cutouts onto the glass, but I prefer to stick them on with a glue stick for more accuracy. Then, rough cuts are made using a carbide glass cutter and running pliers. There's still lots of sharp jagged edges and nothing fits together yet, which is where the glass grinder comes in. It's a carbide head that spins on a motor really fast, smoothing down all the sharp bits and getting the piece to the exact shape it needs to be. It's really messy, you need to use water for grinding and it splashes literally everywhere, it drives me crazy!

After all the pieces are ground and they fit the design, there's a couple of different ways of joining them together. I use copper foil, which is wrapped around the edges of each piece. After they're all wrapped, I turn the soldering iron onto 450°C and get melting the lead solder onto the copper to join it all together.

There's no denying that stained glass is a dangerous art. There's sharp shards of glass, lead, high temperatures and nasty fumes, you really have to keep a clean and tidy workspace and always wear eye protection and ventilate your space. And just when you've been through all of that, there's about 8 more steps to polishing and finishing before it's done. All of these steps take hours upon hours. Each piece really is laborious, which I think is super special knowing that someone has lovingly pored over a work for so long to make sure the finished product is perfect.

 

Tell us about the types of glass you use?

I use such a wide variety of glass! Some of my favourites are all of the transparent Waterglass by a company called Spectrum. Every colour is beautiful and has a soft and gentle ripple effect that looks beautiful no matter where it's placed. I really like light and pastel opaques too. The bulk of my glass collection is yellow, orange, brown and pink - I'm a warm tones gal and often struggle to use up colours like blue and green, but I'm working on it!

 

What's your favourite piece to date?

My favourite piece to date is definitely my art nouveau flowers. I've always loved the humble Nasturtium, so these are definitely inspired by those which was a motif very much loved during the nouveau craze. I remember finishing it after a period of time where I wasn't feeling particularly motivated to make. When it was complete I remember thinking to myself, "I'm back!"

 

"My favourite piece to date is definitely my art nouveau flowers. I've always loved the humble Nasturtium, so these are definitely inspired by those which was a motif very much loved during the nouveau craze."


"My favourite piece to date is definitely my art nouveau flowers. I've always loved the humble Nasturtium, so these are definitely inspired by those which was a motif very much loved during the nouveau craze."

What pieces are you working on right now?

I'm working on using more greens, so I pushed my limits by creating a plant piece in all green. I think I like how it turned out, it's one for all the tropical leaf lovers out there.

 

Any plans for 2021?

After a cracking start to the year with some pieces I've really loved creating, I'm hoping to move into some window installing this year with some bigger designs. I'm hoping to expand my studio too so I can do this. I'm running a few workshops at your store Noel & Gladys which I'm excited about. I'm feeling really good about 2021 already!

 

Book a workshop with Natalie here and learn more about Natalie here.

What pieces are you working on right now?

I'm working on using more greens, so I pushed my limits by creating a plant piece in all green. I think I like how it turned out, it's one for all the tropical leaf lovers out there.

 

Any plans for 2021?

After a cracking start to the year with some pieces I've really loved creating, I'm hoping to move into some window installing this year with some bigger designs. I'm hoping to expand my studio too so I can do this. I'm running a few workshops at your store Noel & Gladys which I'm excited about. I'm feeling really good about 2021 already!

 

Book a workshop with Natalie here and learn more about Natalie here.

PREVIOUS ENTRY

COMMON PEOPLE #37

sammy bate
thirroul nsw

In a garden bed of roses you'll find local botanical enthusiast Sammy Bate dreaming up her next sensory experience. stemming from her childhood Sammy continues her passion for nature, plants and flowers in her floral project "ffoliar" using inner imagination with colour and shape.

PREVIOUS ENTRY

 

COMMON PEOPLE #37

sammy bate, thirroul nsw

In a garden bed of roses you'll find local botanical enthusiast Sammy Bate dreaming up her next sensory experience. stemming from her childhood Sammy continues her passion for nature, plants and flowers in her floral project "ffoliar" using inner imagination with colour and shape.